Category Archives: Video Games

Top 10 PC Games Of The 1990’s

This era saw the rise of the internet and the world of games along with it. We look at the top ten titles that gamers of the 90’s were obsessed with. Get ready for the ride into 90’s nostalgia!
 

Number 10 — Star Wars: TIE Fighter – 1994
 
 

This awesome space flight simulator can be played for hours on end. Wing Commander is a close tie for this spot but nothing could beat the fun foray into the virtual sky that is TIE Fighters is, you fight for the evil Galactic Empire. The scenario is innovative and engaging and has gameplay to match. Fast paced and exciting, this game could have you battling it out into space for hours.
 

Number 9 — Civilization – 1991
 
Civilization-1991 

Designed by Sid Meier’s turn-based strategy game went on to become the most beloved franchises in all of PC gaming, it all started out with the first title. The player takes charge of a small civilization, which you need to build into an empire, all the while competing with other civilizations. You used diplomacy and warfare to forge your way ahead. It is both addictive and fun.
 

Number 8 — Quake 2 – 1991
 
 

The most seminal titles in FPs. You can play as single-player mode or multi-player mode. The multi-player mode was so popular that it went on to become the first official e-sport.
 

Number 7 — System Shock 2 – 1991
 
 

Designed by the acclaimed designer of the modern Bioshock series, this game had a suspenseful story line that had an amazing way to keep you immersed in its world. You play as a lone soldier exploring a starship where something seems eerily wrong. The gameplay combines FPS and RPG elements and a sense of foreboding. All this make the game an excellent precursor to modern RPGs we all love.
 

Number 6 — Grim Fandango – 1998
 
 

Considered by many as the funniest game ever made, Grim Fandango is compared to other titles such as Lucas Arts Monkey Island series. You play as the protagonist, a death travel agent called Manny Calvera, who has to travel throughout the land of the dead hoping to save a few souls. The game includes a cast of extremely wacky characters. The dialogue is clever and witty and the game is full of brain-teasers and puzzles that will challenge your mind. A modern remake of this game is also in the making, so Grim Fandango will enjoy the love of another generation of gamers.
 

Number 5 — Myst – 1993
 
 

This is a puzzle-filled adventure game. You journey through an island called Myst, trying to figure out what is going on; in the process you encounter a ton of puzzles that challenge your skills. Be prepared to spend hours trying to figure out how to get through, this is definitely not an easy game.
 

Number 4 — Diablo – 1993
 
 

An RPG focused on two things, hacking and slashing. It stepped away from turn-based combat; Diablo allows the violence to unfold in real-time. Explore dungeons and defeat monsters, you can pick up the items that spawn randomly, so multiple play-through can be rewarding.
 

Number 3 — Doom – 1991
 
 

Doom was an FPS that came onto the scene as a technical milestone. The gameplay was amazingly fast for that era and had a hyper-violent gameplay. Doom became synonymous with FPS. The FPS games that came later on were often called Doom-clones.
 

Number 2 — Half-Life – 1998
 
 

This proved to be a revolution in FPS gaming. It featured an amazing storyline, told innovatively. It features a remarkable variety of weapons and environments that could be enjoyed for hours and hours.
 

Number 1 — StarCraft – 1998
 
 

The best of any RTS or any other genre in PC games of the 90’s era, StarCraft involved three factions that played independently and were equal in the hands of skilled player. It is a military science fiction RTS. The game makes you play in three different roles. The mission briefings are detailed and the story is incredibly captivating.

 

 

Top 10 Worst Video Game Reboots

A long shot away from the originals, some game reboots just don’t live up to the hype. Maybe they get more hatred because fan expectation was so high if the first game was a huge success. Whatever the reason, these game reboots did not hit the mark. Rebooting classics is not an exact science and these titles flopped badly.
 

1. Final Fight: Streetwise (2006)
 

 
This disappointed on many levels, the 3D visuals were sloppy and the game play seemed unnatural. It did not look anything like the old Final Fight and the AI was dub as a rock, making the gameplay flat and the opposite of fun. You will end up wishing that each fight in the game would be your final fight so the game could finally reach its end!
 

2. Alone in the Dark (2008)
 

 
Inspired by a game released in 1992, the original was considered a brilliant 3D horror survival game. The remake has forgotten the roots of the original. The reboot involves neither loneliness nor dark. Instead of a haunted mansion like in the original the protagonist is now in modern-day New York City. It does not feel like a horror game. The controls are fiddly and the level designs could use a major revamping. There is a ton of glitches that ruin the experience.
 

3. SimCity (2013)
 

 
One of the most beloved PC franchises of all, this simulation game has been enjoyed by many. This version had a major drawback, you could not play unless you were connected to the internet, and this was mostly due to the multiplayer components added in it. The build space was surprisingly small; there was not a lot you could do. As updates rolled out, the problems were patched. Now you can play offline.
 

4. Space Raiders (2004)
 

 
Space Invaders was probably the most influential game of all time, but the makers of this title wanted to reboot it into a dark and gritty version. They failed miserably. The classic 2D shooter did not work well as a 3D urban first person shooter. But you can only move left or right. It makes for clumsy gameplay and is best forgotten.
 

5. Golden Axe: Beast Rider (2008)
 

 
The original was an arcade, beat-em-up. The reboot turned it into a hack and slash full of violence. But no one was interested. The writing and story do not work very well. The creatures in the game are tough to control and the player keeps being knocked off. The hit-detection is quite poor, the enemies repeat and the environment gets boring quickly.
 

6. Bionic Commando (2009)
 

 
This game altered the protagonist into an unrecognizable character and created a game plot with bizarre twists. In one absurd turn, the player’s mechanical arm turns out to be his missing wife! It is full of ridiculous and stupid details like these. There are unmarked invisible walls and the movements are quite repetitive.
 

7. Shadowrun (2007)
 

 
This was a huge mess of an idea. The original was a classic cyberpunk RPG which was rebooted and turned into a multiplayer only FPS. This did not work at any level. The game does not have leader board or stat tracking. The game did poorly and was hated by gamers and critics alike. The game even led to the studio closing down a few months after it had been released.
 

8. Bomberman: Act Zero (2006)
 

 
This is baffling attempt at turning the fun Bomberman series into a dark and brooding game, the adorable robot of the past was turned into a horrible cyborg. The fighting involves combating mindless drones that will quickly get boring. The local multiplayer option was not included in the remake.
 

9. Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)
 

 
Seems like the makers were trying their hardest to turn us into Sonic-haters. The game is just bad, the timing allowed is too short, the camera angles are strange, glitches are all around and the controls are impossible. Sonic is without everything you liked about the original games. You will hate it, and the story is absurd. In involves a human princess that gets kidnapped constantly and has to be rescued. A low point in the Sonic series that is best forgotten.
 

10. Dungeon Keeper Mobile (2013)
 

 
The PC strategy game became a cult classic, but this version is a huge taint on its record. It is free to play but most of the content is pay-walled. It adds nothing to the original and manages to take everything fun away from it. The publisher was even caught manipulating the ratings on the Android Play Store.
 

The maker of the original dubbed this reboot, “Ridiculous” enough said.
 

Top 10 Forgotten First Person Shooters

1. Star Wars: Republic Commando (2005)

This one didn’t make it to big-time popularity levels. A spin-off of Attack of the Clones, this game will disappoint you if you want Jedi. In the game, you control an elite battle squad of Clone Troopers. Even though you cannot use the Force, you can still experience the Star Wars world fully without light-sabers. Here you have an awesome interchangeable DC17 weapon system with which to fight.
2. Bulletstorm (2011)

This game didn’t sell many copies but as history has shown good games often fall through the notice of the public. The developer dubbed it as an anti-thesis to Call of Duty. The violent gameplay is amped up to epic proportions and will give you more than enough reasons to play through multiple times.
3. Clive Barker’s Undying (2011)

The designer of the game, Clive Barker is a best-selling horror novelist. He also voices a character in the game called Ambrose. The protagonist is a paranormal adventurer who investigates the happenings in a large house. Along with a set of weapons, you can also use magical spells to fight your way through this game. There are some puzzle solving elements in this game. It is overall a great adventure game making you wonder why it is so undervalued. Fight the evil undying king and have fun.
4. Prey (2006)

This is a unique shooter game. The game tried to bring about a new twist to the FPS genre but did not do very well. However, a unique element that you will be surprised to find is that portals are a main element of this game, long before Portal was even conceived. The game mechanics are brilliant and innovative and there is no in-game death. It has a lot fresh ideas packed into a very generic shooter, maybe this is what stopped it from being a success.
5. Shogo: Mobile Armor Division (1998)

Love blowing up stuff and giant robots? Give this game a try. You run around in a city either as the main character or can control a giant robot from inside. The visuals are fast and fluid and the art style unique.
6. SiN (1998)

This futuristic cop-game has a host of stunning features unique for that time. A non-linear gameplay and extremely interactive environments. The game boasted elements such as turret actions, the voice in your head and unique death sequences. The reason this did not do well was the unfortunate timing of its release, which clashed with Half Life. The realistic tone of the game lends it depth and quality rarely seen in FPS.
7. Kingpin: Life of Crime (1999)

This game was unlucky in the release timings as well; its release came after the Columbine shooting incident and the popularity suffered owing to the nature of the game. It is a violent shooting game set in a dystopian world. After its release politicians and lobbyists criticized it harshly. This led to the game not even being released in some stores. The game is truly violent and contains graphic language, seems like it was designed to make controversy.
8. Tron 2.0 (2003)

Welcome inside the world of the computer, you have been digitized. This is a cool game with some stunning elements that you will love. Disc throwing fights, light cycle races and weapon animations -all were stunning. This game did not sell really well, but do not be deterred by this. The scenarios are unique because the game is set inside a computer. A particularly fun part is when you have to escape a wall of destruction because the hard drive you exist on is being formatted!
9. Blood (1997)

This has plenty of violence, apart from the usual bag of weapons, the player gets a pitchfork, which is meant for vicious stabbings, and a flare gun that can set enemies on fire, even a voodoo doll that can wreak havoc. Blood is freaky and violent and will have you scarred for life.
10. No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy in H.A.R.M.’s Way (2002)

This game is clever and parodies classic spy movies. The protagonist is a female super-spy Kate Archer, who is tasked with stopping a group of villains named H.A.R. Mand. While doing so she has to travel the globe and visit exotic locations. You get access to loads of cool spy gadgets that even Bond will envy. This game is the most Bond-esque game and we think you will love it.

Violence Franchised: The History Of Hitman

Fans of stealth action video games have probably heard of Agent 47’s gruesome exploits. This genetically engineered super killing clone first started carrying out hits in 2000 when he made his debut in Hitman: Codename 47.
 
Since then, Hitman has grown into one of the most popular stealth franchises in video games and developer IO Interactive’s crowning achievement, arguably. Films, novels, mobile spinoffs – the Hitman franchise is still growing.
 
Could 2015 be the year we see a new Hitman AAA title? There’s a good chance we’ll get more details, at least. For now though, here’s a brief history on the Hitman series of video games, mobile games and movie adaptations.
 

Hitman: Codename 47



 

This was gamers’ first chance to step into the shoes of a cool killer. 47 is a chilling figure, his ghostly visage neutral of emotion, with the infamous barcode tattoo on the back of his neck, but there was more to Codename 47 than its disturbing, antihero protagonist.
 
In many ways, Codename 47 changed the way gamers thought about completing a level. While there was still a point A and a point B, so to speak, how players got to point B could be very creative. 47 is a man of violence, as his job description would suggest. But aside from garroting unknowing victims from behind or releasing a frenzy of automatic gunfire at a group of assailants, the game still rewarded players for employing stealth over shooting.
 
For instance, by donning the clothes of security guards or henchmen, 47 could access restricted areas, blending in with the crowd. The sneak feature also enabled him to evade detection or zero in for a silent hit. Codename 47 was one of the most popular games of 2000, praised by critics and fans, alike. It was also one of the most graphically innovative games for the start of the millennium, one of the first to use ragdoll physics, cloth simulation and foliage physics.
 

Hitman 2: Silent Assassin


 
In the franchise’s first sequel, players were further encouraged to avoid the run-and-gun concept prevalent in other shooters. Instead, players could use tactics of disguise and problem-solving to traverse past layers of security, nail their intended target and land a “Silent Assassin” rating at the end of the mission.
 
A fan-favorite, Hitman 2: Silent Assassin advanced the concepts of Codename 47 with more creative detail, but it also was more user-friendly, with shorter levels and easier AI to handle. Players also got some deadly new toys to play with, including chloroform to incapacitate enemies quietly and a crossbow for killing covertly from a distance.
 

Hitman: Contracts


 
Hitman: Contracts is much like a re-master of Codename 47, featuring recreations of four levels originally introduced in the first game. Many of the same concepts make a return: The emphasis of stealth and subterfuge, a suspicion meter that enables players to see whether they are under suspicion by guards and henchmen, as well as a myriad of creative ways to take down targets, such as spiking poison in drinks or arranging “accidental” deaths.
 
Hitman: Contracts also used an interesting narrative change of pace. As 47 relives the memories of past assassinations, the player goes through those classic levels in reverse. Upon awakening in the present, details are revealed that allude to missions found in the next game Hitman: Blood Money, as 47 also discovers that a mysterious group is targeting him.
 

Hitman: Blood Money


 
Hitman: Blood Money continues this storyline, as players complete missions based off an interview between a journalist and a former Director of the FBI that had been tracking 47 for a number of years. From climbing obstacles, using melee combat and taking enemies as human shields to open-world styled levels, enhanced character models and an entirely new game engine, Hitman: Blood Money is another fan favorite. The sheer amount of changes greatly revised the experience of being the world’s deadliest assassin.
 
Players could dispose of dead bodies in containers to hide them from view. Weapons could be upgraded – bombs and armor entered the arsenal, as well. Accidental deaths are in every level, where players can take out targets in a variety of inconspicuous ways, like rigging chandeliers to fall, BBQ grills to explode and prop guns to fire real bullets.
 

Hitman: Absolution


 
The fifth installment of the series and the first game under the new leadership of publisher Square Enix, Hitman: Absolution goes for a more user-friendly experience, while still maintaining the detailed elements of subterfuge and stealth that have made the game a success. Hitman: Absolution also introduced some novel elements, such as allowing players to create their own missions, called “contracts,” to share with other players online.
 

Hitman goes mobile


 
The Hitman series has also begun expanding into mobile games, with the release of Hitman Go, a turn-based puzzle game developed by Square Enix Montreal. Carrying a board-game aesthetic, Hitman Go uses a turn-based approach, taking away the use of gunplay and setting up accidental deaths for a simpler, more grid-based feel.
 

The next Hitman game


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IO Interactive has gone through some tough times recently, but the developer announced that a new Hitman title for the Xbox One, Playstation 4 and PC would be coming out this year. While details are sparse, the “Contracts” mission editor will make a return, and the game is intended to have a more open-world feel.
 

Hitman in the movies


 
Two movie adaptations based off of Hitman have been produced, so far. 2007’s Hitman, starring Timothy Olyphant and Dougry Scott, has a different continuity from the games, and while it was a critical failure, it proved to be a financial success.
 

A new adaptation, titled Hitman: Agent 47, is scheduled to come out August 21, 2015. The film, which will star Rupert Friend as 47, is being directed by Aleksander Bach. Paul Walker was originally intended for the role of 47, but following his untimely death, Friend was cast for the titular role.

 
 

Top 10 Survival Horror Video Games

If you are passionate to explore horror games more than a sports-related gameplay, then this may interest you the most! Here are the top ten survival horror video games you should check out!:
 

1. Alan Wake (2010)
 

 
You play as a writer who is suffering from writer’s block and is now in the clutches of an evil power. The creatures you have to defeat are scared of light, so your battery-powered torch becomes your main weapon. Shine a light on them continuously and they will eventually die. This makes the game more challenging. Make sure you keep track of recharge times and new batteries. Humanoid monsters attack you and watch out for inanimate objects as well. These will spring up at the most unfortunate moments.
 

2. Condemned: Criminal Origin (2005)
 

 
A survival horror classic, this game has you dealing with serial killers. You play as an FBI agent trying to escape a city that has gone mad. The gameplay is visceral; you use pipes and metal bars that will let you experience the gore up close. Fight your way through the dozens of killers and survive if you have the wits.
 
 
3. The Last of Us (2013)
 

It seems to focus more on the survival part of the genre than the horror, but it is still a solid game. The story is engaging and the combat system intense. Joel and Ally navigate through a wasteland that used to be the United States. The world has been devastated by an outbreak of fungus that turns people into zombies. The trickiest parts are the ones where you have to avoid the blind “clickers” that seemingly attack out of nowhere.
 

4. Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem (2002)
 

 
This is a psychological-horror action-adventure game, you play as the protagonist Alexandra Roivas, who is trying to solve the mystery of her grandfather’s death and happens to stumble upon a world of magic and horror. You also control a set of characters that eventually tie into the main storyline. The game also has a sanity meter. If it gets low, then the game seems to merge reality and dreams and gets scarier and confusing.
 

5. Amnesia: The Dark Descent (2010)
 

 
You play as Daniel, a protagonist who has lost all his memories and has to figure out who he is. The only thing he knows is that he must find and kill a mysterious baron. You are not given any weapons and must travel through the haunted castle, solving puzzles. Whenever any creature happens to appear, you need to hide behind objects and avoid it.
 

6. System Shock 2 (1999)
 

 
This game is a sequel to System Shock. You play against a horde of zombies and need to outwit an unstable AI system. Scavenge the ship for upgrades and supplies in this classic RPG. The gameplay is a bit slow but the atmosphere more than makes up for it. The techno soundtrack is a bit distracting. You can turn it off.
 

7. Fatal Frame 2 (2003)
 

 
Japanese horror is the most effective. This game uses the camera obscura from the first game, and you play through a damned village trying to find your lost sister. The vengeful spirits are vulnerable to the different types of films that you have at your disposal. The game has great shock moments that will make you jump more than a few times.
 

8. Dead Space (2008)
 

 
This sci-fi horror game combines all the best elements of movie classics such as Event Horizon and Alien. This game gives you a glimpse into deep space survival and its horrors. Similar to System Shock 2, Isaac Clark moves through a ship full of zombie-like aliens that attack from all sides. Use the plasma cutter and other innovative weapons to cut down the mindless creatures limb by limb. Dismember them before they do the same to you.
 

9. Resident Evil Remake (2002)
 

 
If you want to see what a remake done right looks like, check out this game. The original game is the seminal title in this genre and its remake is stunning as well. Play as Chris or Jill, navigate a creepy mansion, and defeat the undead horrors contained within. The graphics have been greatly enhanced and the voiceovers seem better. The in-game puzzles are different so the old players will not get bored.
 

10. Silent Hill 2 (2001)
 

 
A brilliant sequel, in this title, James, the husband of the original protagonist, ends up stranded in the creepy town after receiving a letter from his deceased wife. The tension builds up throughout the game as you encounter strange characters and monsters. The psychological elements such as the limited visibility and the strange soundtrack lend the gameplay a unique touch of creepiness.
 

10 Essential tips to success in Fallout Shelter

We’ve broken Fallout Shelter and created a must read guide that will ensure you get the most out of the game.
 

1. Bigger rooms win the long game


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When it comes to building new rooms, electricity, food, and water – in that order of importance – are always first priority. Try to expand a room, if reasonable, rather than a build singles side by side. It’s better to have a large, three-room long structure contributing just one type of resource. It gives better payload.
 

2. Upgrade is the first option, building is the second


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Ever heard off unmanageable growth? It’s a principle people learn at fancy business schools, but Fallout Shelter will pound this idea into your gut sans an expensive textbook. In general, it’s always better to upgrade something before you decide to build a new structure, unless you’re positive that new room is exactly what you need.
 

3. Make your vault a love shack


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Need population? Sure, you can build yourself a radio room – it helps with vault happiness – but it doesn’t have a good yield, even if you upgrade it. The best trick to boosting population is letting people do what they do best. Screw. Pardon my crudeness, but it’s true. Build a living space (always try to upgrade before building another one) and find a man and woman ready to play the birds and the bees. Mixing favorable genes doesn’t give satisfying results, so don’t bother using your most talented, especially if you’re on a tight resource schedule.
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If you happen upon a pair of nightclothes, don’t sell them. They’re a perfect equip for speeding up the mating process. Be careful how many women you get pregnant, though (we’re talking about the game here). Jokes aside, if you max out you’re population limit, you’ll be stuck with a bunch of pregnant women until you upgrade, which is dangerous because pregnant women are useless in emergency scenarios.
 

4. Rushing is great for medical bays


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The Med Bay is the perfect rushing room. Build a good size med bay, equip some residents well with stat boosting gear and good weapons, and then spam rushes in this room as much as possible. When you win you’re rushes, you’ll earn caps and stimpacks. Fail and you can spend a few stimpacks keeping them alive. You’ll have to let off eventually to let their mood recover, but the benefits to this technique are borderline ridiculous. Take advantage.
 

5. You need a road warrior, or three


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You need at least a few vault residents who are built for the wasteland. These are going to be you’re most prized assets, you’re item farmers. Equip them with the best possible gear. Send them out with as many stimpacks and radaways as you can spare. Then, keep your eye on them. Send them home before you fall asleep. You don’t want to lose these characters because you forgot about the game for few days.
 

6. Guns are better than stimpacks always


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Understand that the more guns everyone in your vault has, less often you’re going to find yourself frantically healing them during a crisis. Raider attacks can be an annoying and potentially devastating. But if everyone in your vault has guns, you’re vault residents will take care of them easily.
 

7. Training rooms require patience


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You’ll start unlocking training rooms one after another. Don’t buy them right away. Before you build anything, evaluate your resource management. Are you in good shape? When you do build a gym or an armory, be patient. It takes a while to get a wastelander maxed out in one of their SPECIAL attributes, but it pays off.
 

8. Complete objectives


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It sounds like a silly tip, but it’s regrettably overlooked. Most objectives in Fallout Shelter are not only doable, but they’re unlimited, easy and many of them yield you lunchboxes. The beauty of Fallout Shelter is you really don’t have to spend money, especially if you’re doing objectives.
 

9. Don’t leave your app open


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This is a golden rule, and the fact that people don’t follow it is a dangerous habit. When you’re done playing Fallout Shelter, quit the program. If you leave it running in the background, you’ll drain your resources and even be absent when incidents occur. Many people have complained that Fallout Shelter punishes them when they are away. It’s usually because they left the app on all day in the background. Turn it off. Otherwise, you may come back to a ghost town.
 

10. Upgrade your arsenal


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Giving every resident a gun isn’t going to get the job done, especially if it’s a rusty .32 pistol you had laying around. However, it is a start. Once you’re scavengers keep finding better rifles and shotguns, be sure to replace them. It’ll put you in a much more capable spot when you start facing higher-tier enemies, like molerats and deathclaws, down the line.

 
 

Fistful Of Dynamite: The Red Dead Series

We’ve always had a fascination with stories of the American frontier. So many images surface in our minds: the dusty towns and endless dry trails, peppered with tumbleweeds and painted every dusk by the deep red sun setting in the Western face of the frontier.

But Rockstar Games’ Red Dead Revolver wasn’t so much a love letter to the cowboy myths of our American zeitgeist, as it was a piece of bold storytelling, taking the traditional revenge tale and wrapping it in the guise of a stale Spaghetti western, complete with the outlandish characters, rugged heroes and gun-slinging action that defined an era of legends and hardship.

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You play as Red, a tough bounty hunter, orphaned at a young age when his parents were murdered by an amoral Mexican general. Red moves through the vestiges of the West, giving help to the helpless and laying law to the lawless. When Red discovers his parents’ killers are still at large, he sets out to avenge his family and settle the score once and for all.

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Red Dead Revolver sounds more like a movie than a game, and that’s no mistake. It’s an homage to the many Italian Spaghetti Westerns of the 60s and 70s. You can see it in the grainy effect on the visuals, which mirrors the cheap film they had used, and the soundtrack that reproduced the classics originally scored by Ennio Morricone (think of the wha-wha-wha in “The Good the Bad and the Ugly”).

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The game originally was owned by Capcom, which had been developing a game in the spirit of the 1985 classic Gun.Smoke. Capcom soon decided to cancel the project in 2002, though, which is what led to Capcom picking up the project and giving it to proprietary developer Rockstar San Diego.

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Rockstar had already built their reputation on the highly successful Grand Theft Auto III and Mafia: City of the Lost Heaven, so fans and critics alike were excited to see the publisher wind the clocks back to the beginning of the 20th century, when cowboys were fading but the West was still just as wild. The game got positive reviews from critics, released on May 3, 2004, on the Xbox and Playstation 2.

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Where Red Dead Revolver was about revenge, Red Dead Redemption was a story about, you guessed it, redemption. Protagonist John Marston, a former outlaw, has his family kidnapped by the government. In exchange for his family, Marston must become a bounty hunter to track down the remaining three members of his old gang. But there was a whole lot more to Red Dead Redemption that made it such a compelling sequel.

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For one thing, Red Dead Redemption follows an open-world format, where players can explore the West on foot and horseback, interacting with the world as they please and discovering new areas. Choices are important to the game, as making amoral ones can affect how NPCs interact with the player. Much like Grand Theft Auto, the game also uses a wanted system, which is triggered when Marston kills an innocent civilian nearby witnesses. Marston can evade his pursuers, but a bounty will still be placed on his head.

Red-Dead-Redemption-Gunfights

Gunplay is tweaked considerably in Red Dead Redemption, as players can use a well-designed cover system to avoid enemy fire. Players can auto target enemies, free aim and even use blindfire in these situations. Players can also target specific body parts of their enemies, in case they intend to take down their target non-lethally. The added gunslinger mechanic also gave players a bullet-time ability akin to Max Payne, where they could take out multiple enemies in a flash moment to level out the odds.

Combine this addictive gameplay with a pseudo-RPG setting in the cinematic Americana that Rockstar created – it’s no surprise Red Dead Redemption now is considered one of the best video games of all time. It won numerous awards in 2010, going on to sell over 12.5 million copies.

Undead-Nightmare

Rockstar even put out a standalone expansion, Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare, which plunges the Wild West into a classic zombie epidemic, where Marston must find a cure to stop the infectious horde from spreading.

While a novel, and somewhat humorous, way to expand Red Dead’s universe, the expansion has become something of a fan-favorite for multiplayer enthusiasts, as the online mode allows up to 16 players to fight against and with each other in a recreation of the single player setting.

 

Breaking It All Down: The History of Red Faction

When developer Volition, Inc. dropped production on their game Descent 4, they took with them a new technology that was radically different from what video games could do at that time: destructible environments. Very destructible environments.

Some games had dabbled with this concept before (try Duke Nukem 3D) but never before had a game placed players in a world where they could shape the environment to their will, blasting gigantic craters into walls and tearing buildings down to scratch.

Today, we take that idea for granted, thanks to Minecraft and Battlefield. But before Red Faction, gamers had never seen anything like that. Red Faction blew up FPS gaming, literally.

Red Faction

Released May 21, 2001, Red Faction showed off its destructiveness, utilizing the innovative Geo-Mod engine. Standing for geometry modification, Geo-Mod doesn’t destroy objects through specific, scripted sections. Instead, players alter the terrain and environment at their will, scripting-free. This capability was so impressive, Red Faction even came with a “Glass House” extra level, where players could chisel out endless tunnels and caverns to their heart’s content.

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Indeed, Red Faction was far different from other first-person shooters at the time, and critics raved about the limitless possibilities of reshaping levels through big cinematic explosions and frantic action-packed destruction. No more narrow corridors and walls impervious to bullet holes – the deep, cavernous architecture of Martian tunnels and desert wastes had a feel that any fan of Total Recall could admire, and Red Faction’s story similarly carried distinct dystopian sci-fi elements, with a flair for the revolutionary call, of course.

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Set in 2075, the Earth’s natural resources have become so depleted, the ubiquitous Ultor Corporation has taken to using exploitive mining operations deep inside the Martian depths, and Parker, a downtrodden miner with a revolutionary heart, sparks a rebellion that sees him going toe to toe with Ultor and its ruthless hired guns.

Red Faction II

The game’s sequel, Red Faction II, was released October 15, 2002, and it continued where the events of the first game left off. With the Earth Defense Force (EDF) now controlling Ultor, the top secret nanotechnology revealed in the previous game is revealed to have changed hands with Mars’s deadliest factions, including the Commonwealth, a dystopic military group led by a deranged despot.

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Red Faction II didn’t go over as well with critics when it was first released. The campaign runs a bit shorter than the original, and with no online multiplayer, Red Faction II wasn’t cashing in on the online craze at that time. There is a local multiplayer, though, with an exceptional split-screen mode, as well as a bevy of interesting new features to the gameplay, like the ability to dual-wield weapons. Red Faction II’s graphics were also updated greatly (the PC port was less impressive), with sophisticated AI bots making solo-play on multiplayer a fan favorite.

Red Faction: Guerilla

Not so often does a franchise take a tried and true formula and go for a risky change, but that’s exactly what Volition did with Red Faction: Guerilla, and fans were all the more grateful for it. Released June 2, 2009, seven years after the last installment, Red Faction: Guerilla, took the franchise out of the repetitive tropes of FPS action and switched perspective into third person. But perhaps the biggest change was Guerilla’s introduction to a more non-linear, sandbox style to its campaign mode. Roaming through an open world environment, a terraformed landscape of harsh Martian terrain, players had to seek out six separate regions of the map, completing missions to “free” those areas from the authoritarian grip of the EDF

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Guerilla was a darling title for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Running on the highly enhance Geo-Mod 2.0 engine, players could level whole buildings to the ground, decimating their enemies as they decimated the terrain. The game featured a handy weapon upgrade system, where players could scan the land for “salvage,” a currency spent on new improvements to their arsenal. Many times, the more generous the destruction, the more salvage a player could yield, which obviously led to endless fun. The new installment also got its own online multiplayer, an addition fans and critics alike had been clamoring for since the beginning.

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The game was a huge success, and while critics found the story slightly weaker than past installments and perhaps more repetitive because of its open-world structure, to many, Guerilla is one of the best Red Faction games the series ever produced.

Red Faction: Armageddon

Guerilla’s success may have made some fans scratch their heads when Volition decided to go back to the game’s linear roots with Red Faction: Armageddon. Released June 7, 2011, the game was a strong return to the IP’s history of mission-based campaigns, incorporating some new toys into the mix, like the novel magnet gun, as well as plenty more destructive fun.

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The new decade also saw the franchise branching out into spin-off titles with the vehicle-based Red Faction: Battlegrounds coming out to promote Armageddon’s release. Fans even got to enjoy their first Red Faction feature film adaptation.

Red Faction: Origins, a television film produced by the Syfy network, tied together the storylines from Guerilla, giving fans some juicy canon to enjoy before jumping into Armageddon’s highly cinematic campaign.

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But despite the creative success of Armageddon, the title proved to miss out on being a financial one, and publisher THQ quickly fell into bankruptcy by the end of 2012, leaving this beloved franchise out in the cold.

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For a year, many thought Red Faction would be lost to obscurity, that is until Nordic Games picked up the IP at the last moment. While Volition’s general manager Dan Cermak made it clear the developer wouldn’t be making anymore Red Faction games, there is still hope for this IP. Today, fans continue to speculate what developer may be game for the challenge of bringing back those Martian wastelands, so we can tear them down all over again.

 

Indie Showcase: Dear Esther

It’s always nice to find a game that has a bit of controversy surrounding it, and few games have as odd of a discussion surrounding them as Dear Esther. You see, there’s quite a few who have played it that wonder if the game can even be considered just that – a game. So, let’s take a look at this odd little game and you can be the judge of whether or not it’s a game or something else entirely.
 
Now, after games have been played for decades, and have created an entire community about themselves, I think it’s safe to assume we have a fairly solid definition of what it takes to be a game. First and foremost, it has to have some electronic portion to it – console, PC, or any of the countless hand-held devices floating around. Second, it has to have some sort of story attached to it, though the story can be as in-depth or shallow as the creators need it to be. Three, there has to be conflict – this can be a part of the story, or just something happening within the game that has no connection to the overarching tale. And four, there has to be obstacles to overcome, in some manner or other. While this may not be the most comprehensive list of items to measure something’s ‘gamitude’, it will work well enough for our purposes. So, now we get down to the brass tacks of the matter – how does Dear Esther meet these requirements?
 
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Well, it immediately meets the first two requirements. For an indie PC game, it has a very striking setting and story line. When you enter the game, you find yourself on the decrepit and forgotten docks of some remote shepherds’ island staring at a radio tower far off in the distance. As the waves crash on the beach and the clouds swirl stormily about, a narrator begins talking to someone b the name of Esther. From what you are able to gather, there’s nothing linking you to either the narrator or this ‘Esther’ person.
 
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As the game progresses – and you quickly discover your only controls are the WASD keys, the mouse, and a zoom function – it becomes apparent that, as you choose various paths on your unspoken journey to the radio tower, the narrator will continue talking, at random, to this Esther person (after a while, it becomes apparent that the format of the narrations is a letter – hence the game’s title). And it’s on this rather surreal journey that the certainty of the game’s qualifications become muddled.
 
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For one, there’s no outright conflict within the game. It seems that, for all intents and purposes, your only goal is to reach the distant radio tower and listen to the narrator while you do just that. While the game has a very tangible, eerie vibe to it, there’s really nothing to be worried about. There are no enemies, no puzzles, not even an out of the blue jump-scare like in the similar game Gone Home. In these respects, the game seems much more like an interactive movie than an actual video game.
 
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However, while the action may be rather lacking – and while the gamitude may be questionable – it is certain that it is a compelling experience. As you grow closer to your goal, the world around you becomes more surreal, the narrator more frantic, and the story a bit clearer. What’s more, after completing the game (roughly about an hour, depending on how much you explore) there’s a lot of incentive to play again. Apparently the game chooses the narrations given to the player somewhat randomly – giving up more information with ach play through.
 
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Whether or not this experience can really be called a game is up to each individual player. That being said, if you love a good story, music, or atmosphere, then this game is certainly made for the likes of you. For $10, it’s quite the ride.

 
 

Call of Duty

Call of Duty is one of the most popular video game franchises ever. As of March 2015, over 175 million copies have been sold, with millions of online players logging in every day.

Call of Duty – Infinity Ward, 2003


Developed in 2003 by Infinity Ward, the very first Call of Duty game ran on the Quake III Arena engine. The game’s opening level has you storming the beaches of normady ala Saving Private Ryan. From infiltrating an enemy U-Boat to crouching around bomb-laden buildings of an occupied France, the game was an instant classic, popularizing WWII-themed first-person shooters.

Call of Duty: Finest Hour


Finest Hour was meant to be a kind of retelling of the first CoD, featuring an all new storyline with new missions similarly following the perspective of the allied forces during WWII. Music fans might also be interested to know that AC/DC lead singer Brian Johnson does the voice of Sergeant Starkey, one of the British commandos in the game.

Call of Duty 2 – Infinity Ward, 2005


Introducing regenerating health, warning icons for nearby live grenades and character viewpoints of individual soldiers – the first sequel in the Call of Duty franchise established tropes that are still used today. The game was met with wide acclaim from fans and critics.

Call of Duty 3 – Treyarch, 2006


The first CoD game not by Infinite Ward was also the first console-exclusive game in the series. For a game that only took 8 months to make, it garnered further success for the franchise, although the Wii version developed by Exact Entertainment had more criticisms.

Modern Warfare – Infinity Ward, 2007


This was a landmark release in CoD’s evolution. Doing away with the WWII theme, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare thrust players into a revisionist history. It features all new locales, like the Middle East, United Kingdom, Russia and Ukraine. The game was a technical achievement, utilizing motion-capture technology from real marines and sophisticated A.I. for NPCs. It also introduced the new experience point system for online play.

World at War – Treyarch, 2008


A return to the WWII setting (namely the pacific theatre), World at War has become a fan favorite. It utilized an enhanced engine from Modern Warfare, which added many new elements, like the ability to set objects ablaze with a flamethrower. It also featured the “zombie mode,” which has since become one of the most popular multiplayer modes in the franchise.

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Selling 4.7 million copies in just 24 hours, this title exemplified CoD’s claim as perhaps the most popular franchise in video gaming. The game is praised for its in-depth multiplayer component, of which you’ll still find an avid online community playing today.

Black Ops – Treyarch, 2010


Of course, the first Black Ops would end up crushing this record, selling over 5.6 million copies in its first day of release. It also introduced a further slew of new weapons, placing players in the shoes of special forces operatives that can wield crossbows, ballistic knives and even reconnaissance aircraft.

Modern Warfare III – Infinity Ward, 2011


The final installment in the Modern Warfare saga, it sold a staggering 6.5 million copies in the US and UK alone. For all its hype, critics were disappointed with the single-player campaign, citing the final installment of the Modern Warfare storyline as “forgettable,” although most praised the hugely popular multiplayer component.

Black Ops II Treyarch, 2012


Besides being yet another huge commercial success, Black Ops II introduced futuristic weaponry into the CoD realm, including drones and combat robots. The campaign also showed some new innovations, like player choice, multiple endings, side missions and being able to choose weapon loadouts before playing a level. The updated zombie mode also featured new modes in addition to the original survival mode. The multiplayer was also significantly tweaked, making in-game rewards more achievement-based and giving players the option to utilize a match-making system to pit them against players with similar skill levels.

Strike Team – The Blast Furnace, 2013


Developed for iOS and Android devices, Strike Team made significant changes to the CoD gameplay, allowing players to switch out of their first-person viewpoint to an arial, third-person viewpoint akin to a drone perspective. The game makes clever use of the touch-screen mechanics inherent on those devices, giving players the ability to command their troops with just a few simple swipes and gestures on the screen, while the left and right sides act as virtual analog sticks.

Ghosts – Infinity Ward, 2013


Ghosts introduced a new alternate timeline, where the Middle East has been wiped out by nuclear warfare and a new global superpower has begun swiping through South America. The campaign received a lackluster response from critics, but many players consider the multiplayer to be one of the finest CoD packages to date. The new extinction mode has four players working to gether to fight aliens in base-defending, survival-style gameplay. The online multiplayer was overhauled, with a litany of new game types and revisions.

Advanced Warfare – Sledgehammer Games, 2014


A far more futuristic rendition of the CoD verse, Advanced Warfare’s campaign mode featured a highly cinematic storyline, which included veteran actors like Kevin Spacey and Troy Baker. This was met with praise from citics, who were also impressed by the new multiplayer features. Players can try out various weapon variations and take part in daily challenges. Completing these challenges earns them supply drops, which offer random prizes and extra experience points.

The Next Call of Duty


Speculation is a fickle thing. With a franchise as far-reaching as CoD, a Black Ops III or a just another sequel to World at War, Ghosts or Advanced Warfare are likely. With the recent release of Advanced Warfare though, it’s still a little early to search for clues as to what’s next.

 
 

Too Big Not To Fail: The Steel Battalion Series

Steel Battalion could be one of the most infamous examples of eccentricity in video gaming. Requiring a forty button controller system, this 2005 Xbox exclusive was developed by Capcom Production Studio 4 in collaboration with designers at Human Entertainment, the same personnel that would go on to form Nude Maker, makers of the popular Clock Tower horror video game franchise.

Steel Battalion could be described as something of a mech-simulator, as players were put into a hyper-realistic cockpit of a giant bipedal far-future war machine. It would be an understatement to say the game was designed for a niche audience.
 
The 200 dollar separate controller was incredibly complex to master. Players couldn’t even jump into battle until they successfully started up their machinery, which required a lengthy, complex sequence of flips and switches. This extreme dedication to immersion was as ambitious as it was misguided, one could say. While the game is regarded as a notable technical achievement in video game history, it wasn’t a particularly successful financial one. Besides the obvious fact that very few mainstream gamers were willing to spend the extra 200 dollars for the controller, the game wasn’t marketed very well, and soon sold out its modest production line, quickly becoming a novelty rather than a phenomena. The 2002 title also only offered a meager single-player offering. Two years later, Capcom supplemented fans with an online-only sequel, Steel Battalion: Line of Contact.
 

Ironically, adding an online mode to Steel Battalion’s already demanding specifications didn’t make the game any more accessible to players. While the online modes were meant to reach 5 vs 5, most matches only could populate at 3 vs 3 or 4 vs 4, particularly for players not based in Japan. This mainly revolved around the fact that most players at the time could only access bandwidth rates of 100 kB/s up and 300 kB/s down when playing, which further limited gameplay quality, as well. On top of population issues, many players were frustrated by the game’s devotion to realism, requiring players to completely restart their command center every time they wanted to respawn into battle. By September 20, 2005, Line of Contact’s campaign was already taken offline, and even for hardcore players, setting up LAN sessions was a daunting task, where each player would need their own TV, Xbox, Xbox Live account, game disc and hardware to play the game locally.
 

Many of these issues seemed like they would hold the franchise back from being successful. However, in 2010, developer From Software announced they were taking the helm of the franchise. The developer, acclaimed for their past work with Dark Souls, planned to update the franchise into the Xbox 360 era. However, instead of utilizing the pricey massive controller scheme, they planned to utilize the Xbox 360’s Kinect hardware, a motion-based input system that would use both the traditional controller and the player’s movements to control the game.
 

Unfortunately, the Kinect hardware integration proved a massive failure, as Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor was found to be virtually unplayable because of the hardware’s inability to properly detect and interpret the player’s movements. Despite the fact that From Software’s past resume with notable successes like Chromehounds and Armored Core made fans hopeful the game would be a success, even the game’s lackluster storyline and unremarkable characters proved yet another disappointment. Many critics consider the game to be one of the worst of all time, and many would agree that it ranks as the worst reboot of a franchise ever made.
 

Perhaps the greatest insult revolved around the fact that Heavy Armor had been designed as a selling point to get Xbox 360 owners to fork over 149.99 for the pricey Kinect hardware to play the game, not a very ample improvement over the original 200 dollar required hardware. Heavy Armor also revealed many practical issues that Kinect hardware posed in general. Besides a meager launch lineup of available titles, the Kinect required large spatial room, a heftier power supply, and the hardware’s noticeably slower hand gesture recognition obviously presented latency issues that challenged many dedicated titles, not just Heavy Armor.
 
Steel-Battalion

Sadly, it’s doubtful a new game in a franchise as ambitious as Steel Battalion will make its way to consumers anytime soon, although the concept is still an attractive one, however illogic and challenging it may be to market. As a PC gamer, I have noticed the eccentricity into dedicated hardware building is becoming very much the norm with gamers, these days. It used to be a novelty that racing enthusiasts would craft three-screen mega stations for immersive driving simulations, but as we move further aware from consoles, the audience is growing for these kinds of dedicated setups.
 
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Now, Steel Battalion seems like an eccentric relic of a more gullible decade in gaming, but it’s obvious that the simulation genre hasn’t lost any steam. In fact, it seems like it’s gained quite a bit of steam since Steel Battalion fell into obscurity. Farming simulators, trucking simulators, flying simulators – gamers are becoming more obsessive with immersion than ever, so the idea of a new Steel Battalion game is a welcome one, especially with the advent of virtual reality becoming more relevant seemingly every month developers work with it. However, the issue of developing a competent, successful game that would attract players to spend extra cash on dedicated hardware seems like a fairly large gamble for publishers, in an industry where profit is the first priority in AAA development.

 
 

Firewatch, A Deep Forest Adventure Full Of Mystery

In a vivid Wyoming forest, Henry, a troubled middle-aged man at a crossroads in his life, takes a job as a fire lookout, exploring the vast breeches of wilderness. In Firewatch, players see through Henry’s eyes as he looks through caves and witnesses the stunning sunsets and radiating stars of the solitary natural surroundings. Of course, as Henry begins to witness strange happenings, the plot thickens.
 
With one look at the talent heading up behind Firewatch, it’s obvious this game will be one of the most interesting adventure titles to come out in 2015, that is if it gets finished this year.
 
Firewatch is the first project from the all-new studio Campo Santo. While in its inaugural stage, this small, focused developer is far from being nascent in its knowledge over making great games. Campo Santo’s founder Sean Vanaman was an alumni from Telltale Games, working on the hugely successful The Walking Dead franchise. Talented 2-D artist Olly Moss and Nels Anderson, who worked on Mark of the Ninja, are also in the ranks. Programmer Will Armstrong, who’s worked on Bioshock 2 and The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, is just one more member of Campo Santo’s illustrious talents.
 
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Firewatch certainly conjures up elements of The Walking Dead with its heavy emphasis on dialogue exchanges. As Henry roams through the forest, his only real human connection is with Delilah, his supervisor, whom he communicates with over the radio. The dialogue options are diverse, giving the conversations a natural back and forth, which sometimes affects the course of the story. Firewatch certainly has a Gone Home vibe to it, as well. The isolation Henry feels translates a cold lucidity as he explores the deep corners of the Wyoming forest. There is a mystery to solve, of course, as strange clues begin to point to a malevolent force cloaked by the density of trees.
 
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While Firewatch is expected to be finished by 2015, the game is already poised to be one of the most talked-about adventure games of the year. With such a heavy emphasis on player choice, sophisticated level design and robust dialogue trees, Firewatch is one of those games that will attempt to take away the “invisible wall” that plagues many video games.
 
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It’s probably why so many popular franchises (Elder Scrolls, GTA, Far Cry) make big open worlds for players to get lost inside. Adventure titles rarely fit this model, though. Their strength is in linearity, but in linearity is limitation. Firewatch could possibly break these limits. The complex human relationship between Henry and Delilah drives the story forward. As the player finds more clues and makes more decisions, the story calibrates and shifts gears.
 
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Firewatch’s makers don’t intend the game to be the kind of adventure where you play it multiple times just to see what happens at the end. Firewatch is all about a player’s experience and just how individualistic (and rewarding) that can be.
 
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If you’d like to learn more about Firewatch, check out the official website and keep an eye on the developer’s blog, where you can find all kinds of interesting info about the game, like the technology behind Firewatch’s stunning artwork, procedurally generated lighting effects and much, much more.

 
 

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